About the pre-renovation state of The Beecher House, Wright said the building was coming apart. Bricks were falling off the outside ... the roofing, heating, air conditioning and plumbing all were in a bad state of repair.
“Honestly, I don’t think the building would have stood another year,” Wright said.
Named for the late Beecher Smith, a Somerset entrepreneur, the Hotel Beecher opened in April 1930. It immediately developed a reputation of the finest hotel between Lexington and Knoxville.
The Crystal Ballroom, lighted with magnificent chandeliers, was the heartbeat of Somerset, hosting all meetings and social functions of the time.
The former Crystal Ballroom is currently being recreated about 75 percent of its original size, sans the chandeliers.
“Replacing those chandeliers would cost as much as renovating the entire space,” Wright commented. “It simply won’t work in this budget.”
“It is my hope (the new Crystal Ballroom) will become a popular public meeting place,” said Wright. The original entrance to the former ballroom is being preserved.
“There will be a warming kitchen. There won’t be a commercial kitchen ... meals can be catered,” said Wright.
Originally The Hotel Beecher, it had its beginning during the 1920s when the Methodist Episcopal Church started a building on the hotel site that was intended for a church and a community center.
The project was stopped due to lack of funds and Beecher Smith bought the land. The abandoned structure was used as part of the new hotel, constructed in 1929 and opened in 1930.
Old U.S. 27, before the “Truck Route” was built in the 1950s, was the Main Street of Eubank, Science Hill and Somerset. In Somerset, U.S. 27 went through downtown in front of the courthouse and Fountain Square; then by the Hotel Beecher and down Wait’s Hill, veering southward along Johnson’s Block and westward beneath the (now closed) railroad underpass and up old Monticello Street.
Name of The Hotel Beecher in the mid 1970s changed briefly to Carriage Inn. It ceased being a hotel in the late 1970s when then-owner Glen Neikirk created apartments for Section 8 housing.